Will Palmer: An international deaf footballer

Will Palmer

This week we share more about Will Palmer, who was born profoundly deaf in both ears and is currently a member of the England Deaf men’s football team. The blog introduces you to Will as he shares more about his experiences as a Deaf athlete. We would like to thank Will for taking time out to tell us more about his life and goals for the future.

  1. Hi Will, can you please introduce yourself to our Signature readers.

My name is Will Palmer, I am a player for the England Deaf Football team. We compete in tournaments all over the world with the aims of winning silverware everywhere we go! I have  played football my whole life and I am a keen advocate of raising awareness of the struggles and barriers that the deaf community go through in football. I am also keen how we can make things more accessible for deaf people.

  1. How did you get into playing football, and did anyone in particular inspire you to play?

I have always had a passion for growing up to play football. I don’t think in my childhood days that I missed a single day without going to the local park and having a kickabout! It was so ingrained into my lifestyle, and it has definitely made me the player that I am today. My role model growing up was my father, and even though he wasn’t as keen on football as myself, he always found the time to play with me at the park and play for hours every day. Indeed, this is something I am incredibly appreciative of.

  1. You recently played in the World Cup for the England Deaf Football team; how proud did you feel representing your country?

Even though we didn’t reach our expectations as a team, there is no better feeling than wearing the three lions while playing abroad at the World Cup. It was an even better feeling scoring my first international goal against Nigeria, sometimes I get goosebumps thinking about it! However, my future aims are to win a tournament and become a dominant team for years to come.

  1. What has been your biggest barrier when pursuing your passion for football?

There have been a couple of barriers in football, but the one barrier that needs to be altered is the accessibility for deaf players young or old in training and matches. Deaf players can win games for any team in the world but that isn’t possible without the access of interpreters and deaf awareness support for coaches and staff. Without such awareness, there is a lack of a sense of inclusivity, and this is something we need to change. With such support and access, the sky is the limit for deaf players, and it will enable players to achieve anything they want.

  1. How proud did you feel to be a part of the Bronze medal team at the deaf Champions League European U21 Championships?

The feeling was amazing, the desire and hunger from all my teammates was like nothing I have seen before. We didn’t reach the final but the hard work we put into every game has shown the whole of Europe the talent that we possess. We exceeded expectations in every way.

  1. What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell myself to never let people define who you are, be yourself and enjoy what you do. I refused to let people stop me from enjoying my football. There were some people who thought it wasn’t possible for deaf people to play football. Ultimately, my role is to help people to realise that it is possible.

  1. Finally, do you have any future aspirations in relations to your sporting career?

I have lots of aspirations relating to my sporting career. I would be typing 10 pages If I could mention all of them! I would like for the England Deaf men’s football team to be as successful as they possibly can. I would love to be instrumental in the future success of this team. More importantly, the success of the England Deaf team can bring inspiration. To the younger players and children. I would love to become a role model for the younger generation that will be the future of the three lions.

Thank you to Will for taking time out to tell us more about his football experiences and more about being a deaf sportsperson. We wish him the best with his future in football and are sure that his goal to win a major championship will be fulfilled.

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